Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Music on the Road

I didn’t get a Gertie yesterday or today yet but I did drop a pen in the gutter this morning and The Love slipped on it which made a funny sound and that made us both laugh really hard so that was good.
Now I’m lying on the couch listening to the music on the radio eating some Mi-Cho-Kos which the divine D-Bunny sent me from Paris.  Mi-Cho-Kos rock, they could even be better than Carambars.  Which is saying a lot.  No, I don’t think they are better than Carambars.  They are near-equal.  Which is saying a lot too. 
I am thinking about Music and the Radio and I am wondering - do you think it’s sad when you think something’s something, and then you discover what it really is, and then it’s not so interesting any more?
Like when you think a song is saying something and you sing your heart out with the words you think, sometimes for years, and then you learn it’s something else far more logical and the song loses all it’s joy.  I think that’s called a malapropism.  Take the classic Paul Young example:
Every time you go away
You take a piece of meat, with you.
Or my version of Cold Chisel’s Cheap Wine and a Three-Day Growth
She’s crying like a teenage ho,
She’s crying like a teenage ho
Town ho!  Town ho!  Town ho!  Come on!
It’s so boring when you actually learn the truth, isn’t it.  I loved the town ho image the song created for me, she’s a teenager and she’s the town ho and everyone’s so mean to her they make her cry.  I could really imagine how it’d feel to be a persecuted town ho (and probably have!).  It was so romantic.  And then my fantastic images were brought crashing down by dumb old reality. 
I have another, weirder example, from when I was a kid.
When I was little and mum would tuck me into bed at that witchy putting-little-kids-to-bed hour, I could always hear this strange music.  The music was faint and eerie, and it changed every night.  But every night it would be there.
“What is that?” I would ask, feeling the nightmares and wild dreams already begin to circle around my head.
“That’s the Music on the Road,” she would reply, stroking my head.
The Music on the Road. 
The Music on the Road was a sort of travelling musical caravan/bus that would tour our neighbourhood at bedtime.  Several of the Muppets were in the band, including Beaker and Bunsen and Animal, and there was also Grover, Snuffleupagus, the Hamburgler, Willy Wonka in his purple suit, Annie, and a whole host of characters from assorted fairytale books and tv shows. 
I didn’t like the Music on the Road. 
Every night it haunted me, that creepy carnival bus touring around and around the streets, musicians hanging out the windows, playing their strange songs.  It gave me the Lonely Feeling; remote and small. 
I didn’t want mum to go, but she would kiss me goodnight and tiptoe down the stairs, leaving me to listen as the bus continued around the streets, singing, playing, talking.  Some songs were louder, mostly they were quiet and sometimes I could only hear the sound of one person’s muted voice.  Probably the conductor on the bus.  I would bury my puny ears in the pillow.  It was scary enough being in Own Bed let alone having to bear the awful Music on the Road. 
The Music on the Road continued for years and then as I grew up, it just seemed to go away.  I never forgot it however, or the Lonely Feeling.  It gave me lots of ideas for pictures and things.  I can still see the image of the Music on the Road so clearly, all bright colours and madness, loose characters flopping over each other, climbing out windows and onto the roof under a navy night sky with a big yellow moon.  The characters are quite happy, but in that strange carnie way.  They are all a bit drunk and melancholy.  Full of love, but flawed.  The caravan is hand-painted in scratchy rainbow colours.  I know all the characters so well but none of them knows me. 
When I became an adult, I asked mum about it. 
“Do you remember the Music on the Road?” I said.  “That troupe of musicians that drove through the streets at night playing music?”
She looked at me strangely.  “What are you talking about?”
“The music that would play when I went to sleep at nights.  You used to say it was the Music on the Road.”
She stopped washing the potato for a moment and thought.
“We always had the radio on at nights when you were little.  I must have been saying ‘The Music on the Radio.’”
I was stunned.  I had created a whole world in my head through the mistaking of a single word.  Isn’t that mad?  Maybe I was too young to understand the word Radio.  But it just proves to me, aren’t mistakes wonderful?  What imaginative potential they hold.  No wonder it’s so great to learn another language, your mistake potential just widens.
Ooh, I just got excited about returning to Paris next week, where I’ll get to make heaps and heaps of mistakes and malapropisms and misunderstand heaps of stuff.  Bring it on.